China is now facing what is likely the world’s largest COVID surge of the pandemic. China’s public health officials say that possibly 800 million people could be infected with the coronavirus over the next few months. And several models predict that a half million people could die, possibly more.
“Recently, the deputy director of China CDC, Xiaofeng Liang, who’ s a good friend of mine, was announcing through the public media that the first COVID wave may, in fact, infect around 60% of the population,” says Xi Chen, who’s a global health researcher at Yale University and an expert on China’s health-care system.
That means about 10% of the planet’s population may become infected over the course of the next 90 days.
Epidemiologist Ben Cowling agrees with this prediction. “This surge is going to come very fast, unfortunately. That’s the worst thing,” says Cowling, who’s at the University of Hong Kong. “If it was slower, China would have time to prepare. But this is so fast. In Beijing, there’s already a load of cases and [in] other major cities because it’s spreading so fast.